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Idaho Woman Ordered To Pay $5K For Improper Food Storage In Grand Teton

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An Idaho woman was ordered to pay a fine of more than $5,000 for improperly storing food in Grand Teton National Park.

Belinda J. Arvidson, 50, was ordered to pay $5,826.99 for improper food storage and will serve four years of unsupervised release.

While camping in Grand Teton National Park, Arvidson failed to properly store garbage and beverages, resulting in a grizzly bear receiving a food reward when it found the unattended garbage and drink at the campsite.

“Irresponsible behaviors have  consequences, and many times it is the wildlife that pays the ultimate price,” said Chip Jenkins, superintendent of Grand Teton National Park. “We all have responsibilities to preserve and protect the incredible wild animals of Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.”  

Individuals camping in the area took photos and videos of the grizzly bear while it was in Arvidson’s campsite rummaging through the trash and other food items. The campground contained multiple warning signs about bears and proper food storage as well as bear boxes in which food and other items could be stored.  

Due to the bear receiving a food reward, upon locating the bear, it was tranquilized, collared, and relocated by boat to another area of the park.

The bear could pose a danger to humans if it were to  have another similar incident, and killing the bear may become necessary, the park said.

The fine to be paid by Arvidson covers the National Park Service’s costs for relocating the bear, including the cost of a GPS collar now necessary to track the bear’s movement.

All food and items with a smell must be stored in a bear-resistant food storage locker or in a hard-sided vehicle  with the doors locked and windows closed day and night.

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Police Looking For Evanston Man Who Allegedly Abandoned Truck On Railroad Tracks

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Uinta County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking information on who may have left a pickup truck on some railroad tracks near Evanston that forced a stop to rail traffic in the area.

The maroon Ford F-150 truck was found abandoned and stuck on the railroad tracks Sunday afternoon in the area of the Aspen Tunnels.

Train traffic in the area was shut down for six hours while the vehicle was removed from the tracks and inspected for damage.

Deputies believe Robert Finney of Evanston was the driver of the vehicle. Finney is also wanted on a warrant for felony probation revocation.

Anyone with information about the incident or Finney’s whereabouts should call the sheriff’s office at 307-783-1000.

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Riverton Man Sentenced To Jail For Assaulting Indian Affairs Officer At Casino

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Riverton man has been sentenced to a little more than a year in prison after being convicted of assaulting a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs officer earlier this year.

Leo Michael Duran, 26, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised released on his conviction on a charge of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer. The sentenced was imposed this week in U.S. District Court.

Duran pleaded guilty to the charge in May.

According to court information, during the early morning of Jan. 23, security staff at the Wind River Hotel and Casino were in the process of escorting Duran from the premises and a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer arrived to assist.

While the officer was placing handcuffs on him, Duran turned on him and began throwing punches and causing himself and the officer to fall to the ground, according to reports

Duran got up and ran away, heading down the highway toward Riverton.

The officer made it back to his patrol vehicle and pursued Duran, completing the arrest with the assistance of Fremont County Sheriff deputies.

“We are extremely proud of BIA Law Enforcement and recognize the dangers they face while protecting the citizens of the Wind River Reservation,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Duran’s actions show his complete disregard for law enforcement and a lack of good decision making. This type of assault is not something we take lightly, and such cases will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

This crime was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance from Fremont County Sheriff’s Department.

“FBI Denver thanks our partners at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. Mr. Duran’s violent response to contact from a federal law enforcement officer jeopardized the officer’s safety and that of the community they serve,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “The FBI stands by our law enforcement partners against violent criminals who pose a threat to the community.”

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Casper Woman Beaten In Possible Transphobic Attack

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper woman is raising funds to pay the medical bills of her sister, who was injured in what the family believes was a transphobic-related attack.

According to a GoFundMe launched by Erin Shipley, her sister Rilee Shipley was attacked late July 15 at a dog park near her apartment in Casper. The woman was kicked in the head multiple times and left bleeding in the dark as she attempted to find her glasses and get back inside with her dog.

“Please consider helping Rilee and Theo (Rilee’s spouse) financially as they figure out how to pay some of the medical bills that will come from this horrific and senseless violence and also maintain their rental and vehicle payments,” Erin Shipley wrote on the GoFundMe.

The family did not say why they believed the attack was related to Rilee Shipley being a transgender woman.

The Wyoming Medical Center said Shipley’s orbital bone, lower sinus and cheekbone were fractured and the woman had a head wound from being kicked in the head.

Rilee Shipley has filed a police report and been in touch with a victim’s advocacy group.

The Shipleys have hit their goal of raising $4,500, hitting more than $5,100 as of Tuesday afternoon.

A few days after being attacked, Rilee Shipley took to social media to say she’d realized a few things since being beaten.

“Breaking your face really hurts. (Not as bad as the neck, but close),” she wrote. “If you’re consistently good to people, even people you don’t know, for no reason and with no expectation of being repaid or even thanked, eventually it’ll come back around and the benefits you reap are 100fold what you’ve sown. I don’t have enough words to thank everyone for all you’ve done for us. In less than 48 hours, a gofundme in mine and Theo’s name has reached its goal and is still growing. We’ve been fed, we’ve been doused in love and affection, we’ve been shown how much we mean to our community and to our friends. I’m so grateful for all my people.”

An updated posted to the campaign on Tuesday noted that Shipley would have to have emergency surgery, scheduled for the coming week, to repair her cheekbone. She will soon be meeting with an ophthalmologist to find out more about her orbital bone fracture.

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“If You Take Off With Me, I Will Kill You:” Casper Police Release Body, Dash Cam Footage Of Police Shooting

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Video footage of a man being shot and killed by a Casper police officer after the man drove off in a car with the officer inside it was released Friday, more than two months after the shooting occurred.

The Casper Police Department released body and dash camera footage of the shooting during a news conference Friday.

The officer involved in the shooting, Officer Jake Bigelow, was cleared of any wrongdoing in a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation probe, according to information provided for the news conference. The Natrona County District Attorney also declined to press charges.

The man shot was identified in May as 42-year-old Joseph Roebener.

The footage, edited so viewers could not see Roebener’s body after he was shot, was not streamed during the news conference, but was made publicly available. However, it does contain graphic images and explicit language.

According to police reports and video footage, around 4 a.m. on May 6, Casper officers stopped a vehicle and approached it to speak with its two occupants.

At one point, the driver unexpectedly exited the vehicle and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat in an attempt to flee the scene. Bigelow tried to stop the vehicle by getting into it, however, Roebener accelerated from the scene at a high speed.

“If you drive away with me, I will f–king kill you,” Bigelow told Roebener as the man attempted to put the vehicle into drive.

While inside the moving car, the officer ordered Roebener to stop the vehicle multiple times, even threatening to shoot the man if he did not stop. Eventually, Roebener drove the vehicle onto the oncoming traffic lane of Interstate 25, although this cannot be clearly seen in the video.

The officer eventually fired his times weapon four times at Roebener and safely stopped the car along the side of the interstate.

The entire incident in the vehicle lasted just over a minute, although Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters said Bigelow told him it felt like a lifetime.

An search of the vehicle later revealed an ounce of methamphetamine stashed inside.

“The rapidly-evolving events portrayed in the video abundantly show the difficulty the officer was placed into by the actions of the suspect,” McPheeters said.

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Gillette Teens Charged With Felonies For Stolen Pickup, Causing $40k In Damage

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Two juvenile males now face felony charges after a late-night joy ride in a stolen pickup resulted in over $40,000 in damage to public and private property, authorities say.

Both were arrested at the Energy Capital Sports Complex (ECSC) last night around midnight, according to Gillette Police Lt. Kelly Alger, who added that the males had been sought after for a string of property damages to Fox Park earlier that same night.

Officers had been dispatched to Forge Court at 11:37 p.m. after a 26-year-old female reported seeing a white 2006 Chevrolet run into a portable toilet at Fox Park and drive through a fence in her backyard, where it proceeded to drive in circles, per Alger.

The portable toilet was pushed off its base and back approximately 25 yards into a field. The vehicle had also crashed into the Fox Park sign at the entrance to the playground.

At the park, officers recovered several alcohol bottles, broken glass, and a backpack, Alger said.

Officers were dispatched again 30 minutes later to the ECSC where witnesses reported seeing the pickup crash into a fence around the newly constructed splash pad area until the vehicle was no longer operational. The suspects then attempted to flee on foot.

When officers arrived, bystanders had taken a 14-year-old male suspect into custody, Alger said, adding that officers chased down and arrested a 16-year-old male suspect moments later.

The 16-year-old male fought with officers and was ultimately transported to the Campbell County Detention Center (CCDC). A third suspect managed to get away and has not yet been identified, per Alger.

The 14-year-old male told officers that his uncle had let him borrow the pickup but, when questioned further, became verbally combative.

He began to threaten law enforcement, ultimately claiming that he was going to kill them, Alger said, who further stated that the pickup was found to be stolen and the 14-year-old male was also transported to the CCDC.

In total, the damage to the pickup, the ECSC, and Fox Park is in excess of $40,000. The two juvenile males have been charged with felony conspiracy to destroy property and theft.

The 14-year-old male was also charged with being under the influence of drugs, according to arrest records provided by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement will be seeking to identify and apprehend the third suspect in the coming days.

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Fort Washakie Man Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison For Sexually Abusing Minors

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Fort Washakie man has been sentenced to more than 14 years in prison this week for sexually abusing minors on the Wind River Indian Reservation for 14 years.

Avery Fitzgerald Brown, 27, was sentenced to 14.5 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised released this week in U.S. District Court.

In late April, Brown pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact of a minor.

“The FBI and our local, state, tribal and federal partners work tirelessly to investigate and bring to justice individuals engaged in the exploitation and sexual abuse of minors. With this sentence, a dangerous child predator has been removed from the community with a clear message that sexual abuse of our vulnerable youth will not be tolerated,” said Denver FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “We are grateful to the dedication of our partners at the Wind River Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their efforts in this case and our shared commitment to protecting children.”

According to court records, the abuse occurred on the Wind River Indian Reservation from March 2006 to October 2020, when one of the victims disclosed in a letter to a physician with the Indian Health Service that she had been sexually assaulted by Brown multiple times.

“This case demonstrates the incredible work performed by dedicated federal agents and community members who stood up for the victims and worked tirelessly to bring this abhorrent individual to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray. “It takes courage for any victim – especially child victims – to come forward and disclose sexual abuse.  We should all be thankful that a young girl bravely spoke up and helped stop this defendant from hurting any other children.”

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent Adrianne N. Jahnke. Assistant United States Kerry J. Jacobson prosecuted the case.

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Gillette Man Guilty Of Attacking Another Man With Crowbar in Coffee Shop

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A Gillette man accused of attacking another man with a crowbar in 2020 was found guilty by a Wyoming jury after half an hour of deliberation, the Campbell County Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Brennan Baker, 29, was found guilty of aggravated assault and battery with the habitual criminal enhancement on July 8 following a two-day jury trial relating to an October 2020 incident where he attacked a man at a local coffee shop with a crowbar.

Court documents state that Baker believed the other male had “hooked up with his old lady” at some point previously and was upset when he confronted the male at Hole in the Wall Coffee on South Douglas Highway in Gillette.

Video surveillance footage showed Baker taking a baseball bat-style grip on the crowbar and taking multiple double-arm swings at the male’s head, torso, and hips in the parking lot, per the affidavit, which adds the male put his arms up in an attempt to ward off the onslaught.

At one point, the male was able to grab the crowbar from Baker’s grip and the two exchanged blows with their fists for several moments. Baker was ultimately able to regain possession of the crowbar and swung periodically at the male any time he got near his vehicle in an attempt to leave.

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Cheyenne Airman Saves Kidnapped Child, Helps Capture Fugitive

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne airman has been hailed for her role in the apprehension of a fugitive and the return of a kidnapped child to his mother.

Suzanne Pedro, an installation entry controller at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, was recognized this week for her actions in late June.

According to records of the event, a man drove up to the Air Force base gate and handed Pedro, assigned to defend the gate, an unusual form of identification. The man and a boy in the vehicle refused to make eye contact with the airman, which made her suspect something was amiss.

“I had a feeling something wasn’t right,” said Pedro. “Neither the man or the child looked at me while I scanned the ID. When it flashed red for warrants, my heart began to race.”

Pedro quietly alerted her supervisors and fellow airmen on duty about the situation. She directed the vehicle out of the line of traffic at the gate to keep the man from fleeing.

Airman Frank Shaw relayed information to the base defense operations center, which verified warrants had been issued for the arrest of the man in the car and contacted local law enforcement to inform officers of the situation.

“We were told of a weapon in the car, so my heart was racing, but I wasn’t nervous,” said Pedro. “My main concern was keeping the child distracted and keeping him comfortable and happy.”

Although the investigation is ongoing, the airmen have been told the child had been missing from his biological mother since December.

Pedro and Shaw were recognized by multiple levels of leadership for their actions.

“Airman Pedro exemplifies what it means to be a Defender,” said Maj. Keil Luber, commander of the 90th Security Forces Squadron, which runs the air base. “While not yet qualified on her position, she followed her instincts and training, directly contributing to the capture of a wanted criminal and the recovery of a missing child.”

Pedro expressed excitement about her coming years in the military.

“I’ve wanted to be a police officer as long as I can remember,” said Pedro. “To have only been in the Air Force for 10 months and get this experience that most haven’t gotten in their whole careers – it’s been amazing. I am thankful for everyone on my flight who has helped teach me, and I’m also thankful to my parents for supporting me in my dreams.”

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Former Wyoming Catholic College Official Accused Of Running $15 Million Scam

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A former chief financial officer for Wyoming Catholic College is accused in a federal lawsuit of running an elaborate scheme to defraud a New York asset management firm of $15 million.

Paul McCown is accused in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District court of falsifying financial documents and even posing as a bank official to convince Ria R Squared to loan him $15 million.

The lawsuit filed in late June said that within “hours or minutes” of McCown receiving the loan, he transferred most of the loan proceeds to other people — including relatives, associates and Wyoming Catholic College itself, which received an anonymous $10 million contribution through McCown’s actions.

“This is the story of a complex, calculated, methodical and fraudulent scheme, orchestrated by an individual holding a trusted and respected position with the Wyoming Catholic College, to defraud R Squared out of the sum of $15 million,” the lawsuit said.

WCC, in a statement Wednesday, said it was in the process of returning the money.

Wyoming Catholic College was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit and no claim was made that the college was involved in the scheme. 

In the statement, WCC said McCown was placed on indefinite administrative leave on June 5 because of personal financial irregularities and resigned on June 25.

“Over the past month, to experience such a profound breach of trust by a leader of our institution, has been both embarrassing and painful for Wyoming Catholic College,” the college said.

It added there was no evidence of financial irregularities at the college.

According to the lawsuit, McCown was introduced to David Kang, president and chief executive officer of R Squared, by WCC’s executive vice president, Jonathan Tonkowich.

McCown told Kang he was looking to obtain advisory services related to the college’s endowment fund.

In March of this year, McCown advised Kang he was searching for investment advisory services on his own behalf for his “substantial personal wealth.”

The lawsuit said McCown provided Kang with bank statements from Wyoming Community Bank that revealed small balances in January and February that grew in March to $750.3 million as the result of a large deposit.

He also offered US Bank statements “which appeared to confirm the large transfer …” 

McCown told R Squared to address all of its questions to a Kendall Hayford, who he identified as his bank officer at Wyoming Community Bank. An R Squared representative had a telephone conversation with a man identified as Kendall Hayford using a telephone number supplied by McCown.

McCown in May texted Kang that he needed a short-term loan for $10 million — an amount later increased to $15 million. He referred R Squared to Hayford for the necessary banking information.

The loan was made on May 11. 

Meanwhile, McCown continued to move forward with setting up an investment advisory account with the $761 million reportedly in his account. A person identifying himself as Hayford said the money had been released and a wire transfer to R Squared had been initiated on May 21.

“However, the funds did not arrive that day, or on the following Monday … (or ever),” the lawsuit said.

When looking into the situation, R Squared reached out to Wyoming Community Bank’s president and “McCown’s fraudulent activities began to become known.”

When contacted about the loan, McCown denied borrowing the money or signing any loan documents.

Further investigation revealed the bank statements provided to R Squared were forgeries and that McCown never had hundreds of millions of dollars in Wyoming Community Bank.

While Kendall Hayford is an employee of Wyoming Community Bank, the number and email given R Squared by McCown were both false and Hayford’s signature on documents was forged.

Within hours of receiving the money, the lawsuit said, McCown transferred most of it to relatives, including his father and brother- and sister-in-law, to himself and to the Wyoming Catholic College colleague who introduced him to Kang. 

He also obtained a cashier’s check payable to the state for $841,863.

“The falsity, and the great lengths Mr. McCown took to exact his plan, became known only days after funding the loan,” the lawsuit said. “Regrettably, the vast majority of the funds have now been disseminated to various entities and individuals affiliated with Mr. McCown, including his family members and his employer.”

The lawsuit said R Squared could not account for about $1 million of the loan.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction to prevent the further distribution of the money.

“Given the elusive and creative nature of Mr. McCown to date, and his blatant and brazen disregard for the consequences of his misconduct, it is imperative that Mr. McCown … be restrained from (his) ongoing fraudulent conduct, the continued dissipation of assets, including the funds fraudulently obtained, and the hindrance of justice,” it said.

A hearing on the company’s request has been scheduled for July 16.

The lawsuit accuses McCown of a number of charges, including fraud and breach of contract, and asks that the court force McCown to repay the loan plus interest, along with punitive damages to be determined in the course of the lawsuit.

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